WASHINGTON D.C. (Nexstar) — After Sen. Joe Machin effectively killed President Joe Biden’s signature legislation, the Build Back Better Act, Republicans are looking at Manchin’s decision as an opportunity to recruit him to the party.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Nexstar that he sent a text message to the West Virginia Democrat on Tuesday morning saying, “Joe, if they don’t want you we do.”
Cornyn said he has not heard back from Manchin yet, but said it would be “the greatest Christmas gift I can think of.”
“I don’t know what he will decide to do. But I do know West Virginia has gotten increasingly red,” Cornyn said. “…And I think his vote on Build Back Better is reflective of what he’s hearing from his constituents in West Virginia. So yeah, we’d love to have him. That would change the majority.”
Cornyn joins a chorus of other Republicans praising Machin for his decision, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he would “certainly welcome” him to their party.
Manchin, a key centrist, stunned his fellow Democrats and President Joe Biden after announcing on cable news Sunday that he does not plan to vote in favor of Build Back Better Act. In recent weeks, the president invested time trying to win over Manchin, even saying the two of them had a “productive call” last week.
“I’ve always said this, Bret, if I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for and I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t,” Manchin told host Bret Baier on “Fox News Sunday.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki fired back in a statement, which gets prior approval by the president beforehand.
“On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities,” Psaki said. “If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”
The White House has been pitching the nearly $2 trillion package as a way to transform the country’s social safety net. Democrats have a self-imposed deadline of passing the legislation by the end of the year. It needs 50 Senate votes in order to pass.